By Xu Bingjun
On January 14, 2020, Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Commander of US Air Force Space Command, was sworn in as the US Space Force's first Chief of Space Operations, marking a major step forward on America’s space militarization after President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal year 2020 last month, with the establishment of the Space Force, the sixth major service, approved.
The US has continuously strengthened its military buildup in recent years and taken the space as its strategic goal. On August 29, 2019, the US officially announced to set up the Space Command, stressing that the land, sea, air and cyberspace have all become crucial battlefields and it viewed the space as an “independent domain” in order to “ensure that America’s superiority in space is never questioned and never threatened”. After that Washington has adopted a series of measures to accelerate the process of space militarization.
To ensure its superiority in space competition, the US has kept putting more investment in space projects, and its 2018 annual budget for space projects was increased by 20% from the previous fiscal year, followed by an increase of over 7% in the fiscal year of 2019. As Washington has sped up the process of space militarization, its space budget will continue to increase substantially.
In the meantime, US has moved faster to develop space weapons, especially offensive space equipment including unmanned spacecraft, anti-satellite weapons and sky-based assault weapon systems. The Air Force's X-37B Space Plane to be launched for the sixth time in 2020 is considered a secret space weapon or space spying platform.
Realistic exercises are also carried out more frequently to explore future space wars. It is reported that on September 7, 2019, less than ten days after the US Space Command was established, Washington carried out the “Schriever” space war exercise set against the background that an imaginary enemy state launched a “multi-domain” war in Europe. It also organized the Space Flag combined operations exercise. With these exercises, America’s space war has shifted from the strategic level to the tactical level.
Moreover, instigating the NATO and its allies to enter the space is another important way for the US to push the space militarization more quickly. On December 4 last year, leaders of NATO member states were pushed by the US to reach an agreement at the London Summit, announcing the space to be the “fifth battlefield”.
What’s more, Gen. John Raymond hinted at the annual meeting of US Air Force Association last September that the US plans to form a space “inner circle” within the wider Five Eyes (FVEY), an anglophone intelligence alliance, and the conglomeration’s other members are the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with a view to leading the formulation of “rules” for space activities.
Driven by America’s aggressive promotion, the space is being militarized at an ever faster pace whether the international community likes it or not. Washington has tied NATO and its allies onto the space chariot, aggravated space arms race and made the space no longer peaceful, which is truly disturbing for all countries in the world. Peace should be an inherent feature of human space exploration.